Role Models‘ Managing Director Hugo Shepherd chats with kodomo.com about this fantastic new company, which provides a unique form of creative childcare. Aside from the usual prerequisites we all want in those looking after our children, part of the Role Models’ service is also to offer fun, engaging child carers to accompany families abroad and ensure the holiday is even more relaxing for everyone involved.
Based in Wimbledon, they source talented musicians, actors, teachers and even artists who are also highly experienced childcarers, and pair them up with children who have keen aspirations in the same area. As parents, we can’t be all things to all children, and the idea is that adult role models have a massively important role to play in child development. And they are happy to travel abroad with you so their engagement can extend to your holidays, too. Genius.
How did you come up with the idea for Role Models?
The idea for Role Models first came about when my lovely French au pair refused to play cricket with me in the garden! I realised then that tailoring the child care to the child is vital. More recently, two good friends of mine started looking after local, part-time children whilst they were training to be a doctor and teacher and it became apparent there was a huge demand for engaging, talented childcare.
How do you find your carers? How do you thoroughly and safely research their backgrounds?
Most of our Role Models are referrals through word-of-mouth. We also have close ties with particular public schools such as Wellington College, whose ex-pupils tend to be an excellent ‘fit’ for our service. All our Role Models are interviewed, DBS / CRB checked, reference checked, over the age of 21, fluent English speakers and loaded with extensive childcare experience.
And if parents want a Role Model to take abroad, how would the process work?
We start by having a discussion with the parents to understand their children’s character and interests so we know who might fit in well with that particular family. We then contact those Role Models who we feel meet the required criteria. The profiles of Role Models who are available are then sent to the family, so they can decide who they’d like to interview before their upcoming holiday.
Have you had any really odd or interesting requests?
We’ve been asked to find a babysitter in Gstaad, Switzerland for New Year’s Eve (which we found) and a Role Model on Christmas day (which we were less successful with!).
What is the starting age of children that you provide role models for?
We have looked after children from 3 months to 18 years old. We always ensure the Role Model has the necessary experience, based on the child’s age, needs and interests.
What are your hopes for the future of the business?
We’re looking to grow exponentially over the next 3 – 4 years, both in terms of our private childcare and our special educational needs holiday camps. We’re also developing resilience and well-being courses for children in Year 5 before they take their 11+ exams or start having school interviews.
How specific can parents be in their request for a role model regarding gender etc….?
Very specific. We now have 79 Role Models on our books so the ability to cater for a range of specific requirements is becoming increasingly do-able. Requests for male, sporty Role Models to look after young boys is particularly popular.